DOE Proposes Efficiency Standard for Light Bulbs

On Feb. 12, the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed an efficiency standard for general service lamps, marking the next step in an ongoing process that started with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) in 2007.

The proposed rule is based on months of research and analysis conducted by the DOE’s national laboratories, and after 60 days of public input, the goal is to have a final rule issued by the start of 2017. It would take effect in 2020.

The creation of this proposal is the result of a Congressional mandate. The EISA set initial standards for light bulb efficiency and required the DOE to develop new standards if it was deemed those rules were needed. Incandescent bulbs will need to meet a backstop (minimum efficiency level) requirement starting in 2020, as well.

“The proposed rule would set an efficiency level that is not particular to any technology, but which today only LEDs [light-emitting diodes] meet,” according to the DOE website. “Manufacturers and consumers have three years from issuance of a final rule to prepare for these new standards and to continue to support cutting edge research in lighting technologies to ensure there is a wide range of options on the hardware store shelf.”

The most obvious impact of such a standard would be the continued prominence of LEDs, including an increased presence in American homes. This has become more feasible for many families thanks to the continued decline in prices for LEDs, and on top of that, the use of LED technology will result in lower utility bills. This standard will help to make LEDs the norm.

The environmental impact of increased LED use is significant, as well.

"In 2014 alone, LED installations prevented 7.1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and saved $1.4 billion in energy costs,” according to the DOE. “As a result of this proposed rule, more than 52 million metric tons of CO2 emissions would be eliminated. That’s equivalent to the electricity use of 7.2 million homes.”

For more on this proposed rule, and what this means for the consumers and the environment, visit

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